NWT wildfire season ‘pretty quiet’ compared to 20-year average

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources' FireBoss aircraft sits at the Norman Wells airport in June 2020. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio

This summer, there have been just 69 wildfires in the NWT. The 20-year average is 186 fires by August 10.

The number of hectares burned is also significantly lower than average. So far this year, just 21,747 hectares have burned – normally by this point in the season, nearly 350,000 hectares have burned.

At the beginning of the season, the NWT’s wildfire operations manager Richard Olsen said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources would be more proactive in not letting fires get too big when they could threaten communities or properties, due to the increased logistical problems an evacuation during the Covid-19 pandemic would cause.

Amber Simpson, a wildfire information officer, said “quite a bit of rain” in the NWT this year has also played a factor in keeping wildfires to a minimum.



“Our season so far is actually pretty quiet,” she said.

Territorial data dating back to the 1970s has shown that wildfire season severity has been cyclical, with one significantly quieter season every four to five years on average.

Unless something changes significantly in the next month, 2020 – like 2018 – will be a quiet season.

In 2018, 55 fires had burned 11,591 hectares by the end of August.